What is Left Behind

January 1st: What is Left Behind

Can you feel it? Man, I woke up this morning, and that New Year Energy is like a living thing- a big jumble of hope and excitement and determination, a breath of fresh air, a big zap of radiant motivation. It’s not just the start of a new year, but the start of a whole new decade…which is also the end of the last year and the last decade. What a wonderful place we are standing in right now.

The first thing I did when I woke today was suspend my Facebook account. I’ve done this on January first for the past three years now, and it is always such a relief. I am not going to pretend it is permanent, but it is a much-needed break. This year, I hope to know less about things that don’t matter to me. It’s much more peaceful that way.

After that, I lit my candles and settled onto my cushion and sent up my first prayer of the year, heartfelt and full of gratitude for all that I have, and gratitude for all that is on its way to me. I stated my intentions for the months ahead and gave lots of thanks. I meditated for a good long while. When I was done, I wrote down the things that I would not be carrying with me into this new year, each one on its own scrap of paper. Here are the things I am leaving behind:

  • Worry about what other people think of me
  • Judgement of others
  • Resentment
  • Hurt over things that happened in the past
  • Trying to control that which can’t be controlled
  • Fearing the worst

I took the scraps of paper outside, and as the sun rose on the first day of the year, I lit each one of those things on fire and dropped them, one by one, into the fire pit. I let them go. I know I will need to let them go again and again until I learn how to release them forever, but this is where we start. By naming them and releasing them.

Have you thought about what you are not bringing with you into 2020? If not, there is always time to start now, no matter when you happen to read this. The point is not to do it perfectly or call it a failure the first time you catch yourself slipping back into old habits and routines. The point is to start the journey of change, which begins with taking notice of this heavy thing you carry, setting it down…and understanding you will pick it up and put it down many times before you let it go forever. We are all works in progress. We can always find a better way, do a different thing, improve one aspect or another. Today is a wonderful day to start, but you know what? So is tomorrow…or any time you are ready. Whatever you decide, I am sending you love and good wishes for a wonderful year.

Turning Points

December 12th: Turning Points

I just got home from seeing my therapist, whom I adore and respect, and who I’ve been seeing regularly for over five years now.

Tonight, I finally told her the story of my life- the part that happened before all of the things that led me to her. The part before the drugs and the craziness and the dysfunction. I told her the story of my childhood, what it was like to witness domestic violence on a more and more regular basis. How helpless I felt, the way I was so often frozen with fear.

Five years, and tonight was the first time I’d thought to mention any of that to her. There was more- things I won’t talk about here because they are too personal- yep, even I have certain limits. But I told her all of it. I didn’t mean to…it just came up.

I cried a little bit. It’s hard for me, when I think about that little girl that I was, having to cope with the terror I felt. I would sometimes go to bed at night wondering if I would wake up in the morning, or, if I did wake up, if I would still have a mom. I’m not exaggerating at all- this is the truth. I look at it now, from this perspective, and it’s like I’m watching some other little girl…and I wish I could save her.

But you know what? I did do that, didn’t I? I did save her, in the end.

For a while, I had some pretty shitty coping mechanisms, but…it’s no surprise, when I think about it. The funny thing is, I didn’t even think I was hurt by it. I didn’t think it mattered. I thought “Hey, it’s over now, it’s in the past, I’m fine.” And I didn’t really think about it after that.

I have shared my story with other people before. Often, they would say “It’s a miracle you turned out as well as you did.” But I just shrugged it off. First of all, I didn’t think it was a big deal. Second of all, I didn’t think I’d turned out very well.

Tonight though, it hit me. I finally saw it. I finally understood the amazing truth. I am a goddamn miracle. I really am. I fought so very hard to be this woman sitting here, writing these words. I just didn’t know…I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. I had no idea what I was really trying to overcome. And when it became clear to me all of the sudden, I was so amazed at what I had accomplished. I honestly don’t have the words to describe it to you.

Tonight was a turning point for me. I had no idea it was coming, and I didn’t expect it, not this one, not ever. I suppose it is yet another gift of my perseverance, my desire to heal. I have no idea what else may show up, what other gifts might come. I just know that I am so grateful. So very, very grateful.

What I want to share with you right now is this: keep going. When it is hard, and when it is easy. When it hurts and when you feel nothing. Wherever you are in your journey, whatever you are seeking, whatever you are healing, processing, grasping or releasing…keep going. Right around the corner might be the turning point you never saw coming. Five minutes from now, you might see yourself in a completely different, lovely way. Keep going.

What Do You Owe Yourself?

December 9th: What Do You Owe Yourself?

Recently, I saw some great stuff about self-care not always being about bubble baths and pedicures and let me tell you this: I agree wholeheartedly! Indulging ourselves from time to time is absolutely important, and you should make time for these things, yes- but is that truly the essence of self-care?

Uh-uh. No, not by a long shot.

As the little blurb I saw went on to say, sometimes self-care really means taking care of your finances, sticking to a budget, giving up some luxuries you don’t need so that you can accomplish something you do need or want.

Sometimes self-care means taking a good hard look at the negative patterns in your life and figuring out where it started, or, more importantly, when you are going to see it end. Caring for yourself means to look after yourself the way a good parent would- limiting your intake of bullshit and putting yourself in time out when you are acting up. Being loving, but firm.

Self-care means getting your shit together. Facing your problems. Seeing yourself as you truly are and owning that- not blaming it on your terrible childhood or your ex-boyfriend, your trauma…because the truth is, we ALL have trauma. We are ALL recovering from something that has wounded us. There is not a soul on this earth who doesn’t carry scars.

Getting better, healing- it’s a lot of work. It’s a job that never ends. Not everyone is even aware enough to undertake it. Lots of people are comfortable with their familiar routine of turning a blind eye to the truth, hiding their heads in the sand, identifying with their less than ideal lot in life.

I’m going to tell you something- the past five years of my life have been the hardest, the most grueling years I have ever known. They have also been the most rewarding and happiest. The work I have put in…when I look back, it blows my mind. While I was going through it, it seemed bumpy, sure. But when I look back at all of it, it’s hard to believe I made it through. But I did, one slow step at a time. No one will ever know, really, except for me, the things that went on…because 90% of it was internal. Yet I am more proud of the way I cared for myself, the way I carried myself, through that, than I am of anything else I have ever done.

So…what do you owe yourself? You owe yourself the best life you are capable of giving you. That will look different for every person reading this, but…I encourage you to really ask yourself “How’s it looking?” and “Where am I now? Where do I want to be? How do I get from here to there?”. Look, this is not a dress rehearsal. This is it. This is your life, right now. Take care of you. And I don’t mean taking a bubble bath.

Different

December 6th: Different

We cannot change the world- at least, not in the way we would like to, right? Every day, I am privy to crazy happenings all around the world…people doing the most heinous, awful things, things most of us cannot comprehend ever doing to another human being. Hell, my own government here in the US is so corrupt it is painful and stressful to bear witness to! If I could, and I think many of us would do the same, I would put a stop to. Just like that. “Hey! Knock that shit off! Didn’t your mother teach you better than that?” In my fantasy, it would be that simple.

The truth is, not only can we not change the world just like that, we cannot change most things. Almost everything is beyond our control. Even changing ourselves is very difficult.

Yes, you heard me right- me, the one who is always going on about self-acceptance is now talking about changing. Listen, you can love yourself exactly as you are while still working on yourself. As a matter of fact, I think that might be the only way we can create lasting change in our lives- by loving ourselves through it. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t gotten very far by hating myself into change. Trust me, I’ve tried.

My point is, we can really only change ourselves. But when we make positive changes in our lives and become happier, it benefits everyone we come into contact with. You have no idea how you might inspire others by bettering yourself. I am constantly surprised by the people who tell me that my words have resonated with them, that they needed to hear what I had to say, that it made a difference in their lives. Even if I just make someone laugh, that’s still a positive vibe I helped create that wasn’t there before. What we do and say, the healing we pursue, the changes we make to evolve matter. A lot.

Today, I hope you can do one thing differently than you did yesterday. One thing that you wish you could incorporate into your life, one little thing that you think might make your life richer or more peaceful or just run more smoothly- I hope you take the time to do it. We don’t change our lives overnight. It’s always one small thing, one building block upon another. That is how we build the life we dream of. So…I challenge you to start here. Today, do something different.

Two Sides

November 26th: Two Sides

There is a me that I love, and a me that I struggle with. The side of myself that I love is quick to laugh, lighthearted, funny, and warm. The side of myself that I do not enjoy is cynical, angry, quick to take offense, difficult and sharp. She is always ready to fight.

I understand that the circumstances of my life, over time, have made both sides of me necessary for one reason or another. When times were hard, the darker side of me was my protector. Anger was easier than fear and kept people from getting too close. But the danger of living this way for too long is that it becomes a habit, and habits are hard to break. Times are not hard for me anymore, and I don’t need protection. I am not afraid, and I want those I love close to me. I don’t need to hide behind anger.

This morning, I have made a decision. It is time to remove the walls I have built around my heart. I will do it brick by brick if I must, but I am ready. I have done all this work on myself, and I sense that it is time to open up and start the work of repairing and strengthening the relationships in my life. Time is precious, and I’ve taken long enough.

I know that this is very specific to me, but I wanted to share it anyway…because I’m sure that there’s a part of you that you love, and a part of you that you wish you could change. Well, you can. And so can I. But it is going to take time, resolve, patience, forgiveness and love.

That’s what it boils down to, I think. Love. I want to be the part of me that I love, because that’s the part of me that understands how to love. And, even though love is at the core of every single thing I write here, it is still not always the easiest place in myself to access. I let too many things get in the way. Today, I am going to start dealing with that.

If you are reading this, I want you to think about the side of yourself that you love, and the side of yourself that causes you trouble. Which side has been in the driver’s seat? If you don’t like the answer you come up with, don’t despair- we become who we are for a reason. Be kind to yourself and see if you can get closer to the part of you that you want to be. Be patient with yourself, but firm. Let go of what no longer serves you. It’s time.